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ACRL Immersion Reflections

drawing of me, explosion, and ideas

My drawing of a lesson from Parker Palmer

I’m at ACRL Immersion this week which is fortunately in lovely Burlington, VT at Champlain College. It is overwhelming and I’m meeting tons of people and getting tons of information. I’m actually squeezing this post in between dinner and yoga. I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience so far though and share things I’ve found helpful for immersion and my career.

  • Take time to reflect – That’s what I’m doing right now. Here at Immersion I try to squeeze in precious minutes to reflect on what I learned and what it means to me. But this should be done at work to. Reflect on what you’re doing. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Take time to just think and not necessarily be creating something. Have your students in class reflect too. That’s where ideas can be born and meaning can be found.
  • Real experts don’t sit at a desk, they talk to people in the world – I got this from a great video we watched about the design company IDEO. You can theorize all you want, but the real information is out in the world. We make assumptions about students all the time, but rarely examine them or ask their opinions. I know I want to take more time talking to students about assumptions or just observing people when I get back.
  • The people you surround yourself with make a difference – Immersion is tons of work and it’s easy to get tired and less engaged. But the people here are a self selected group. They’re people who wanted to come to improve their teaching. The other Immersionites are engaged, participating, or even asking me questions. They push me when I’m tired and help make me better. If you surround yourself with engaged, curious, dynamic people it helps you to be better and improve.
  • Stay passionate, keep things fresh – Burnout happens. I’ve only just celebrated my second year of librarianship, but over time things can get stale and you can become burned out. You need to work on keeping your passion alive. Keep your teaching or your job fresh. Try new ideas often. Try out some different technology or slides in the classroom. Experiment and be willing to fail.

There is tons more I’ve taken in still have three more days. I highly recommend Immersion to anyone though. And for people who have attended or are currently attending I’d love to hear other things you’ve taken away or advice you might have.

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Reflections on Two Years as a Librarian

andy holding up the number 2

Today marks my second full year as a librarian and I’m still in love with this profession. My job is to assist people who are curious like me, people who want to learn, and I get paid for it! There have been a fair amount of changes around here recently, like the fact that we’re getting a new librarian, but it keeps things fresh. I posted at this time last year a few reflections and am still learning things, so I wanted to post some lessons I’ve learned this year.

  • Go with the flow – Sometimes things are going really great. You sometimes come across one of those moments that make it all worth it. Other times everything seems to get fouled up, or everything hits your desk at once and you get overwhelmed. This is true in any career and in life. Don’t dwell on failures because they’ll soon turn around. You’ll learn from your mistakes and be successful. On the flip side, don’t get too caught up with your successes or start boasting when things are going well. You don’t stay on top forever. There are lots of highs and lows in your career. Enjoy the good times and learn from the bad ones.
  • Give back – If you want your job to exist in 5, 10, or 20 years give back to the profession. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and join an ALA committee (though that’s an option). It does mean to give back in a way that’s meaningful and works for you. I helped organize a virtual version of the ACRL New England Chapter conference for Vermont librarians who couldn’t make the actual one. It was a great learning experience for me, benefited other librarians and the organization, and was a lot of fun. Giving back could mean presenting at conferences cool ideas your library has tried, it could mean mentoring a younger librarian or MLIS student, or it could mean volunteering with your local library association. With our actions we’re creating the future of librarianship; make sure you have a say in that future.
  • You can’t do everything – This one is especially hard for me to remember since my interests are really varied and I love trying new things. But sometimes you have to drop things. This goes for libraries in general as well as each of us in our personal careers. You can’t serve on every committee, take on every interesting project, write every paper, or teach every class. The same goes with libraries. They can’t try to be all things to all people. Once you start getting overwhelmed and stretched thin you have to think about what you can drop. Take time to reflect on what’s important to you and your career and concentrate on that.

I’m still a new librarian and am constantly learning. But I don’t think I can get away with saying, “Oh sorry, I didn’t know, I’m new,” anymore. This year’s been a good one personally and professionally. Now I have to look forward to year number three.

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Top Ten iPad Apps for Librarians

I’ve had an iPad for a number of weeks now and I find it’s really helping me organize information better. With the help of a few select apps I’ve downloaded I’m able to connect from anywhere, catch up on videos and reading, and maintain a social media presence. It was really useful at ALA Annual and I’ve heard other librarians say great things about their iPads too. These are a few of the apps that I think are essential for librarians.

  1. iBooksThis is Apple’s attempt at doing books and it does a pretty good job. Like most everything Apple does, they put thought into the user experience and it shows. The way the pages turn is pretty and you can see your books all on a shelf that you can look through. The selection in the Apple book store isn’t as good as the Amazon of Barnes and Noble book stores, which also both have apps. But it is decent and there are a lot of free books you can choose from too. Cost – Free
  2. StanzaAnother great ebook reader. They have books for purchase but also over 50,000 free titles from places like project Gutenburg. You can also import ebooks inPDF, ePub, or various other formats. It gives you a few more options for customization than iBooks does. Cost – Free
  3. EvernoteAn amazing app for note-taking that may make me switch from paper notebooks. Librarians are often in meetings or have great ideas but forget to bring a notebook or instead bring the wrong one. With Evernote you can sync notes across devices (I use it on my Android phone) and never lose notes. You can also take voice notes or capture webpages. This is one of the best tools I’ve found to capture ideas before they slip away. Cost – Free
  4. DropboxIf you have multiple devices (tablet, desktop, laptop, smartphone) then this is a must have apps. Dropbox allows you to sync files across the web and access them from anywhere. Save a document you were working on at home and read it on the road on your phone. Then edit it again at home on your laptop. It is super easy and integrates with a number of other apps too. Cost – Free up to 2GB of storage, reasonable pricing for more

  5. screenshot of dropbox

  6. TwitterificWe’re all aware that many librarians are social media butterflies, so a Twitter app is necessary. Whether you’re monitoring multiple searches for conference hashtags, chatting with your colleagues, or looking at different lists you’ve set up, Twitterific does it all well. It has a clean interface with not too much clutter. The only downside is that the free version does not support multiple accounts. So if you need that functionality for your library account too, you might want to look at Osfoora HD for $3.99. Cost – Free
  7. Dictionary.comThis app is exactly what it sounds like. Librarians can smith words with the best of them with this handy reference tool. It has a good interface and includes a thesaurus and word of the day (which I really like!) Cost – Free
  8. GoodReaderIt’s sometimes difficult for librarians to find the time to read scholarly literature. This is a very useful app for reading all sorts of different documents. I store Word and PDF files here like articles and reports for reading later when offline. It’s a little confusing with all the options for set up and organization, and Jason Griffey noticed that you may want to check your settings for security reasons. But for saving and reading different files, it is great. It also integrates with Dropbox! Cost – $0.99
  9. QuickOfficeA productivity app that allows full editing of both Word and Excel documents. It connects with services like Dropbox or Google Docs to make it easy to find your documents and edit them. This app turns the iPad into a full fledged office device. Cost – $9.99
  10. AudiobooksThis app uses the admirable Librivox recording project to make it easy to get over 2,800 classic audiobooks on your iPad. It automatically bookmarks your last spot and has a built in browser so you can surf the web while listening (kinda multitasking). Cost – $0.99
  11. WikipanionAnother quick reference app that uses Wikipedia entries and displays them in a visually pleasing format for the iPad. It cuts down on some of the annoying extras from the Wikipedia site and gives you just content, nice and clean. Cost – Free

There are 13,000+ iPad apps and growing in the App Store, and this list is by no means comprehensive. What are some of your favorite apps? Did I miss some? Post a link in the comments.